I’ve never been a big fan of the Inhumans and only dabbled in the Inhumans vs. X-Men series. I’ve always liked Charles Soule’s work (his Lando comic series is a must read) and the idea of Marvel expanding on this side of their universe is intriguing. How often do you see new ideas and new characters being developed at the big two? Not often, which makes this volume an intriguing read.
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: R.B. Silva, Kim Jacinto and Ario Anindito
Publisher: Marvel Comics
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Join the Inhumans on a path to war with the X-Men! In the depths of Black Bolt’s Quiet Room, a plan is being hatched that will decide the future of Inhumanity. The daughters of the fallen Inhuman Auran are plotting a desperate attempt to resurrect her – as well as revenge against her murderer. They will reunite their family, even if means the fall of their entire race…because the cost of cheating death is high. And as the recriminations from one battle linger, a fresh conflict looms…and the X-Men will be fierce foes, because they’re fighting for their very lives!
Why does this book matter?
Essentially two stories, this volume captures the weirdness of the Inhumans while developing its characters. Maximus the Mad, Black Bolt’s insane brother, gets top billing in the second half of the series and he’s a character to keep an eye on after the Black Bolt series hinged on his actions. This volume collects Uncanny Inhumans #15 through #20.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The opening does have a lot of captions…
The first half of this volume focuses on the daughters of Auran scheming to bring their mother back. She was killed by Black Bolt a while back and the best way to bring her into existence is via Reader. He’s an Inhuman who can make anything come to life if he simply reads text. You can see where this story is going and Soule does a good job capturing the thoughts of the characters via captions. He also captures the fantastical powers Inhumans have that are practically like magic. Having not much understanding of Inhuman powers I have to say this story won me over as far as how incredible the Inhumans can be. Soule sprinkles in rules and explanations for how Reader’s powers work–and later Auran’s–and weaves in a fantastic science fiction tale about rebirth. If you were reborn based on the thoughts, stories, and ideas of others what would you be like? It’s a cool concept that transitions into a high stakes tale.
R.B. Silva draws this first half and it has a Joe Madureira look that’s clean and organic looking. The use of shadow is particularly impressive which helps make the bar and late night mischief feel seedy. There’s an epic double-page spread highlighting Auran’s life via stories that helps convey the complexity of what Reader is doing well.
The second story is all about Maximus the Mad going on a quest. His chipper attitude and somewhat incomprehensible notion that he’s a hero is a delight to read in part due to Soule’s infectious use of dialogue. The character is capable of the most off-the-cuff and funny bits of dialogue, riffing well with his minions he’s dragging about. While it’s easy to like him due to his personality, he’s also a total dick, and it’s easy to root for Lineage and the Unspoken. Soule also uses Maximus the Mad’s mind control powers in interesting ways throughout. They’re victims and Maximus puts them through hell, and yet you can’t help but root Maximus on when his plans come together.
Those plans take these characters on a bit of a quest, which has some delectable twists and turns. They’re on a mission to create Terrigen crystals, but having not been created in thousands of years–and requiring a lot of elements to make–it takes these characters in all sorts of places. Soule uses a few fun montages to ramp up the fun and it all feels like a great movie. This story ends in a big battle of giants, which seems fitting given the powers and abilities of these characters.
The second half story is drawn by Kim Jacinto and Ario Anindito. Both flex their imaginative muscles and capture the weirdness of the Inhumans and the journey in this volume very well.
This volume ends with a single issue epilogue with Black Bolt and Medusa discussing the events of the Inhumans vs. X-Men. It serves as a nice farewell and a send-off from Soule that reminds us he’s taken these characters to new heights.
Soule’s writing of Maximus the Mad is great.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The first few pages of this volume are tricky to get into due to the heavy use of captions. There are boxes upon boxes of captions, which slows the read to a crawl. Serving as a way to get exposition to the reader, it kills your motivation to turn the pages. Luckily, once Reader enters the story things move along at a good clip.
As a self-contained volume each half feels complete though I did have my questions as far as how this fit into Inhumans vs. X-Men. Ultimately it doesn’t matter, though Maximus the Mad’s story does claim to be a tie-in.
Is It Good?
This is an excellent volume that I was frankly surprised to love so much. Having not read many Inhuman stories in the last year I quickly fell in love with the characters and the journeys they go on in this volume. Basically split into two stories, Charles Soule captures the wonderment the Inhumans bring to the Marvel universe. If you’re a Inhuman naysayer, give this book a look–Soule may just make you a believer.